Cut the tips on my brand new contra reeds that I made over the weekend and they worked!! They’re a little wonky in the pitch, but so much better than what I expected that I still feel like strutting. Go, me.
Former declaration of loyalty to the 8 year old reed is hereby rescinded. Albion reed for muchos smackeroos turned out to be much nicer than the old one once I cut the tip. Old reed on recording sounds like one big raspberry. New Albion actually has tone.
Bought Susan Nigro’s Bass Nightingale off of iTunes. She is incredible. Contra playing like I’ve never heard. Average person could go to her concert and not spend the whole time snickering about a big flappy farty instrument blurting around on the stage. Disappointed to see that there are no liner notes attached.
I wear my bassoon. I’ve been doing it since I had a nasty bout with tendonitis about ten years ago. It is the only way I can get through even half an hour of playing without pain, and I never could have done it before I had a balance hanger. I use a BG shoulder strap with two hooks that I sling sideways across my chest – over head with one arm through.
Just recently though, I picked up an IDRS journal and saw an article with a different twist. The author still uses a seat strap and a neck strap, but the neck strap is looped through the back of a chair on the right side and hooked onto a regular, basic neck strap hook on the bassoon. Weight of the instrument is taken by the dual straps and your right thigh. It works beautifully and keeps the weight almost completely off of the left hand, more so than my usual balance hanger and neck strap method. The only two downsides are 1) you must have a chair with a slotted back, and 2) range of emotive movement is severely limited.
I was trying to keep the whole audition thing a secret. About a week ago, I realized that in order to keep some secrets one has to be willing to lie. I wasn’t willing to lie about this so it all started unraveling. I think for the best. Last week’s lesson shattered me a bit. More than a bit. I can’t put my finger on what exactly it is that he says or does, but I almost always leave his office “less than”.
Tonight, I had a little snack with my biggest competition.
I’m told my reeds are quite narrow, but they seem to fit in pretty well with Lou Skinner’s reed design. If you haven’t already checked out The Bassoon Reed Manual: Lou Skinner’s Theories and Techniques by James McKay, do so. It’s been invaluable, especially for contra. It turns out I’ve been using his Five Tests for years now and never knew it because they’d been shown to me by another bassoonist. My instrument before this was a Schreiber and I remember thinking that my Moosmann 200 felt very similar in key structure and sound. I think Fox Bassoons tend to respond better to a wider reed design, which may be part of why I didn’t appreciate the sound of those I tried. Anyway, here’s his diagram straight from the book:
Here’s a troubling revelation: my eight year old contra bassoon reed from college still works. The troubling aspect of this is that it works BETTER than the Albion Silver Professional reed that I just bought from Forrests for 30 smackeroos. Wish I knew what brand it was and even more, I wish I had found it before shelling out all that cash for a reed I don’t like. At least now I know what measurements to follow for the reed blanks waiting at my desk. Hard to know what’s going to work best when you’re borrowing an unfamiliar instrument that you can’t take home with you.
Freelance bassoonist and carpenter of the reedy persuasion, residing and thriving in Tucson, AZ.
Habits of Musicians
Have Bassoon Will Cook
The Pedantic Bassoonist
Double Reed Ltd.